By Ed McLaughlin and Wyn Lydecker
A pre-order is an informal commitment from customers to purchase your product before it is formally offered to the market. Pre-orders are vital to any new business because they validate your business idea before you launch.
Like many entrepreneurs forming B2B startups, I had the advantage of a significant, pre-existing corporate relationship base to build on. In a few cases, my customer relationships were close enough that I could try out my idea informally. It turned out that this would be the way I would secure my first pre-orders. That gave me the confidence to leave my job and launch my business. Looking back, I realize that my pre-orders were the key factor that led to achieving profitability in my fourth month of operation.
Securing pre-sales is the single most important point of validation and vitality for a new business. If you can line up enough pre-orders, you can maximize control of your company and minimize the need for outside funding.
To secure pre-orders:
- Generate a target list of high-trust contacts and likely buyers of your new product
- Internalize your value proposition and be able to articulate it clearly and concisely when you meet with prospects
- Contact your closest customers – ones whom you trust – and ask them if they would place an order with your startup
- Approach trusted advisors and ask them to make introductions to prospective customers
- Sell your competitive advantages to clearly delineate your product in the mind of your customer
- Close for the pre-order and document your mutual commitment to do business together.
Secure as many pre-orders as you can reasonably fill on time, on budget, and at the quality level your customer expects. Keep in mind that your reputation for fulfilling your commitments is your number one asset.
Ed McLaughlin is the author of the upcoming book, The Purpose Is Profit: The Truth about Starting and Building Your Own Business along with co-authors Wyn Lydecker and Paul McLaughlin. The Purpose Is Profit (Greenleaf Book Group) is scheduled for release August 2016.
Connect with Ed on LinkedIn here. His email is Ed@ThePurposeIsProfit.com